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Supernatural Lights – This is mainly a study of angelic lights, but also takes a look at the shekinah glory of God and demonic lights, for the sake of spiritual discernment. Today, many charismatics and New Agers are seeing supernatural lights, and its important to know how to interpret and respond to them. 36 pages.
I want to share about “angel sparkles.” My wife and I have been seeing these since 2008 or so, and almost once a week at least. And we have crossed paths with other prophetic people who have seen them too. “Angel sparkles” is the best term that we have been able to come up with to describe this experience. This might be the closest thing in Scripture to it: “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them” (Acts 2:3).
Granted, we’re not seeing any lights shaped like tongues. But they are still fiery lights that appear out of thin air. (You will remember that God–who is made of Spirit like the angels–became a pillar of fire during the Exodus–Exod. 13:21.) And “He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire” (Heb. 1:7). Most of the time, they are bright white little lights that appear out of thin air when we are talking or thinking about theology, God, the Bible, faith, the Christian life, etc. They appear sometimes on Christian books as I read sentences. They appear when my wife or friends talk about Jesus–to highlight that the things we say are inspired by God (when the apparitions come).
Angels are referred to as “lights” and “stars” in the Bible. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” (Jas. 1:17). Light is symbolic of illumination, revelation, and knowledge. I believe James was speaking of spiritual gifts–particularly revelation gifts that involve angels, dreams, and visions. There have been times when I have seen angel sparkles in dreams, and also with my eyes closed in inner visions. “While the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). And this is what they are–they are bright like stars (which makes me wonder about the Star of Bethlehem). Angels are creatures of light. These angel sparkles will appear out of the thin air, while our eyes are open–they look like little Christmas lights (usually white ones, sometimes blue, sometimes orange, etc). They flash like little bright LED lights for one second, like a tiny little camera flash. Most of the time, they are white. They vary in size. For me, most of the time they are no larger than a pinpoint. Sometimes, they are as large as a dime or a quarter. My wife has seen them even larger than this, sometimes in the shape of a mist, spreading out several feet in front of her. They prefer to appear at night, but can appear at any time of day.
One of my favorite books on charismatic or prophetic church history, is Jacobus de Voragine’s The Golden Legend, written in 1260. He referred to “angel sparkles” too, except he didn’t use our special term.
In volume 1 (William Ryan’s version), he speaks of the funeral of SAINT AMBROSE (4th c.): “When his body was transported to the cathedral on the night of Easter, a number of baptized children saw the saint. Some of them saw him seated on the episcopal throne, some pointed him out to their parents as he went up to it; still others told how they had seen a star above his body” (p. 234).
Again, another “angel sparkle” occurrence on the martyrdom site of ST. PETER MARTYR (13th c.): “Many religious men and women and numbers of other people have seen lights descending from Heaven over the site of the martyrdom, and have testified that they saw two friars in Dominican habits surrounded by these lights” (p. 260).
In volume 2 there are more examples. Here’s one from SAINT DOMINIC’s infant baptism (13th c.): “When Dominic’s godmother lifted him from the sacred font, it seemed to her that he had on his forehead a brilliant star” (p. 45).
SAINT MARCELLUS (5th c.): “Another night when he was asleep, someone came and awakened him, and, once awake, he saw a star shining in the entrance to his cell. He got up and tried to touch the star, but it quickly moved to another part of the cave, and he followed it until it came to rest over the spot where John the Baptist’s head was buried” (p. 138).
SAINT DENIS’ martyrdom (3rd c.): “Instantly the body of Saint Dionysius stood up, took his head in its arms, and, with an angel and a heavenly light leading the way, marched two miles” (p. 240).
In light of Robert’s comment below, I find it an interesting possibility that visions of multi-colored angel sparkles could be a New Testament version of the high priest’s breastplate in the Old Testament. Each of the twelve tribes of Israel had a special stone color, with a special symbolic significance. If angels attempt to communicate to us through colors, at least we have a precedent: God has laid down a pattern of certain colors having a prophetic significance in the Bible. And with Jesus as our High Priest (Heb. 7:24-26), it would make sense that Christians, who are all priests by faith (1 Pet. 2:5), would have angelic ministering spirits, to communicate revelation to the saints by means of those same colors which had significance to the priests of the Old Testament.
ST. COLUMBA (d. 597): “A great heavenly light was seen to shine above him by several of the brethren on separate occasions, both at night and in broad daylight…poised over the face of the sleeping child was a fiery ball of light…I saw a very bright column of fiery light going in front of the man of God whom you despise, and holy angels as his companions…how great and special were his experiences of angelic visits and heavenly light…the place where his bones rest is still visited by the light of Heaven and by numbers of angels” (Adomnan of Iona, Life of St. Columba, pp. 110, 206-07, 233).
Both Robert Fleming, the Covenanter biographer, and Adomnan saw “angel sparkles,” or “bright lights,” or “heavenly lights” as angelic manifestations, and as closely associated with open visions of angels. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” (Jas. 1:17). It seems “HEAVENLY LIGHTS” is the more Biblical and traditional expression. The Golden Legend also uses the phrases HEAVENLY LIGHTS and STARS for this phenomenon: not “angel sparkles,” which admittedly sounds a bit irreverent, casual, or overly familiar. Also, the “very bright column of fiery light” mentioned above makes me think of Exodus 13:21: “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.”
ST. SYMEON THE NEW THEOLOGIAN (d. 1022) – Greek Orthodox: The unique thing about St. Symeon is that he is not having visions of angelic lights, but visions of the shekinah glory of God (or kabod), or seeing the light of the Holy Spirit. He also writes a lot about why he believes this to be so; and that the practice of contemplation (or hesychasm) leads to this glorious experience of God’s light. His biographer said that Symeon saw “the Holy Spirit as an infinite and formless light descending upon him…he lost all awareness of his surroundings and forgot that he was in a house…he saw nothing but light all around.” He said that the light would come at different times, like when he was reading theology, standing before the icon of Mary (as a Protestant I can’t quite agree with that), praying the Trisagion, and while worshiping God with the Lord’s Supper. “Symeon speaks of the light waxing and waning, appearing first as a star, then growing until it is like the sun in brilliance, and finally once again withdrawing”; and he describes it as “the energy and power of His all-Holy Spirit, in other words, His light.”
He also believed it was possible to experience transfiguration in this life, just like Jesus did on the Mount of Transfiguration, where the apostles saw His glory (Luke 9:32). He said, “I partook of the light, yea and became light, beyond every passion and outside every evil.” His Biblical support for Christians being able to experience transfiguration comes from John 17:22: “The glory which You gave me I have given them.” Turning from his own personal experience of divine light, he turns to the Bible and the Desert Fathers for further confirmation: the pillar of fire (Exod. 13:21), the glory of God that filled the temple of Solomon (1 Kings 8:10-11), the vision of Isaiah 6:1-5, glory in Ezekiel 10:18-22; 11:22-23; and 43:1-5, the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant (Exod. 19; Lev. 10:1-3; 16:2; 2 Sam. 6:4-7), Moses‘ encounters with it (Exod. 24:5), and esp. 34:29-35, which says in v. 30, “When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him.” Then we have the example of when Jesus appeared in light to Paul on the road to Damascus, blinding him and knocking him off his horse (Acts 9:3-4), Stephen saw the glory of God before he was martyred (Acts 7:55), the glory of God is said to give visible light to New Jerusalem (Rev. 15:8; 21:23), and Paul says that Christians contemplate and then see the glory of God in a vision: “We all, with unveiled face, beholding (contemplating, katoptrizomai) as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).
Like most theologians, he believed the Acts 2:3 tongues of fire were the light of the Holy Spirit, and not angels, as I have theorized based on Hebrews 1:7. After Scripture, he turned to the Desert Fathers as preaching the same things about the light: Arsenius was apparently seen engulfed in the fire of the Holy Spirit, Abba Silvanus saw the glory of God and was transfigured by it, Abba Sisoes died while in the glory of God’s light, and once when Abba Joseph was asked how to be saved, he “stood up and stretched out his hands toward heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire, and he said to him, ‘If you will, you can become all flame.'” Isaac of Syria was one of Symeon’s heroes, and he said that usually the glory of God is seen with closed eyes in prayer–closed, interior visions in the mind–but sometimes it can be seen with the physical eyes (Alexander Golitzin, On the Mystical Life, vol. 3, pp. 81-102).
ROBERT BRUCE (d. 1631) – Covenanter: “Fleming also mentions angelic visitations, the audible voice of God, bright lights appearing in the darkness, physical manifestations of the Holy Spirit in meetings…” (Jack Deere, Surprised by the Voice of God, p. 76; Robert Fleming, The Fulfilling of the Scripture, pp. 416, 418-19, 432, 437-40).
SOLOMON STODDARD (d. 1729) was the grandfather of Jonathan Edwards; and the forerunner of the Great Awakening that occurred under Edwards’ ministry and preaching. The circular light peeking out behind the pillar in his pastor’s study is apparently an angelic light, symbolizing the revelation, illumination, or enlightenment, that Stoddard had received from the Holy Spirit and the angels. The mere fact that something like this was painted in Stoddard’s pastoral portrait, in color, shows that Stoddard must have not only seen, but believed in manifestations of angelic light orbs, and had taken them seriously.
WILLIAM BRANHAM (c. 1950). Temporarily operating in one of the most revolutionary prophetic healing ministries in modern Pentecostalism, he cooperated with trinitarian Pentecostals from the Assemblies of God, the Church of God, Gordon Lindsay, Stanley Frodsham, and Oral Roberts, from 1947 to the early 1950s. He was a straight shooter in these years and not associated with heretical doctrines. In 1950, an angelic light was caught on camera above his head while he was preaching, just like the portrait of Solomon Stoddard. They called this angel the “Pillar of Fire” (C. Douglas Weaver’s The Healer-Prophet, pp. 72-75). Unfortunately, Branham had a falling out with Lindsay, whom had a stabilizing effect on his theology–and he eventually taught heresies in the 1960s.
Chronologically, it looks like the following saints have seen angelic lights:
1. 33 A.D. – The 120 on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:3).
2. 3rd century – People who saw the martyrdom of St. Denis.
3. 4th century – Children at the funeral of St. Ambrose.
4. 5th century – Pseudo-Dionysius: saw James 1:17 as angel lights (Cel.Hier. ch. 1).
5. 5th century – St. Marcellus guided by angelic light to the head of John the Baptist.
6. 6th century – St. Columba saw many angelic lights in his life.
7. 11th century – St. Symeon saw the shekinah glory of God many times.
8. 13th century – When St. Dominic was “baptized” as a baby.
9. 13th century – Many people by the martyrdom site of St. Peter Martyr.
10. 17th century – Robert Bruce (Covenanter) saw lights appear in the dark.
11. 18th century – Solomon Stoddard (Puritan) has an angelic orb in his portrait.
12. 20th century – William Branham, during the height of his healing ministry, and his cooperation with trinitarian Pentecostals like Gordon Lindsay, had a picture taken of him in 1950 of an angelic bar of light that appeared over his head, which he called the “pillar of fire.” Tragically, in the ’60s, Branham later apostatized and entertained heresies.
13. 20th century – John Paul Jackson (Vineyard / IHOP) taught about angel lights in 1997: this was published later on a CD called Naturally Supernatural and dramatized on It’s Supernatural.
14. 21st century – Larry Randolph (IHOP / Morningstar) said of angels, “You might also see a momentary flash of light out of the corner of your eye or shimmering colors that come and go around you” (Spirit Talk, Morningstar Publications, 2005, p. 34).
15. 21st century – Many charismatics today commenting below on “Angel Sparkles.”
Ghost Lights: Familiar Spirits and Will-o’-the-Wisps
See this article from gotquestions.org. It addresses the popular conception of “orbs” as they are often photographed by ghost hunters or paranormal investigators or caught on video in graveyards and haunted houses. In such a scenario, these are demons which the Bible calls “familiar spirits,” which pretend to be the ghosts of the dead, and communicate with mediums and pagan psychics. The idea of ghosts comes from witchcraft, the occult, the New Age, psychics, spiritualism, and mediums. Although it is a popular belief and there are many horror stories, movies, and TV shows about this subject, the Bible makes it quite clear that such things are demonic. Isaiah 8:19-20: “When they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them.” Leviticus 19:31: “Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.”
In folklore, these orbs are also called ghost lights, will-o’-the-wisps, and even jack-o’-lanterns. I have had three experiences with ghost lights that were demonic. They were not in graveyards, but they did occur on roads that were near graveyards, and near a building where a psychic operated her business. They appeared at times when I was coming under spiritual attack from people on my job. Sometimes when the devil tries to increase his attacks on Christians, you might see an increase of haunting type activities like this. The will-o’-the-wisps that I saw were only designed to scare me and distract me while I was driving to work at night as a security guard. They appeared as large, flying white lights in the sky and would follow me as a drove, about a hundred feet in front of me in the sky, so that I could see them through my windshield as I was driving. They appeared in the sky above cloud cover, like they were hiding in the clouds. They might make you think they are drones or searchlights at first, but when you notice they have no long beams and the fast speed at which they travel, then you will know they are evil spirits. They are historically associated among the Irish as a type of fairy. They have nothing to do with the Gospel, the Bible, or God. They are just ghostly apparitions that leave you afraid or confused. They are territorial spirits I think, because once I left the town of Marietta, Georgia, they stopped following me. Another wisp appeared like a flashlight on a hill at a site I was doing my security rounds at; and when I looked to see, nobody was there. Its a ghostly, haunting experience, and the devil is playing pranks on you, trying to make you afraid or shocked: just be sure to command it to leave you alone in Jesus’ name! The folk stories from the 1800s indicate that will-o’-the-wisps are deceptive demonic lights that capture the attention and mislead their followers down a wrong path, one that leads to danger or trouble.
But don’t let this turn you away from the fact that angelic lights have appeared to Christian saints in the past, and have highlighted thoughts, messages, and revelations which confirm the Bible and the Gospel. Bear in mind that demons and angels alike are ontologically the same type of creatures (spirits, or intelligent conscious beings made of light, 2 Cor. 11:14): its just that demons will always contradict thoughts and concepts that are of the Bible, lordship salvation, and conservative evangelical theology: whereas true angels will confirm these Biblical truths. Demonic lights abound everywhere: in haunted houses and graveyards (spiritualism), UFOs, Hindu gurus (Hinduism), the New Apostolic Reformation (antinomian and universalist charismatics), witches (as fairies), etc. The only legitimate angelic sparkle is one that confirms ORTHODOX THEOLOGY, such as the pre-Reformation Catholic saints, the Covenanters (the Reformation), Solomon Stoddard (Puritanism), and possibly John Paul Jackson. Concepts and thoughts that are enforced by spirits outside the pale of evangelicalism are simply “doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1).